Afghanistan Truce Agreement

The agreement reached during negotiations between the United States and the Taliban could, if maintained, guarantee a peace agreement that would lead to the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan. The commitment to a “temporary reduction in violence” would pave the way for the signing of a formal peace agreement. Both sides got cogged down over the US demand for a ceasefire before the signing of the final peace agreement. The deal is expected to withdraw U.S. troops and ensure that Afghan soil will not be used as a launching pad for attacks on foreign countries. A dispute over the prisoner exchange has raised questions about the deal in which the Afghan government is not directly involved. In a statement, the Taliban said they had reached an agreement “to end the occupation of Afghanistan.” A Taliban official familiar with the deal said the second deal would be signed on Feb. 29 and innerafghan dialogue would begin on March 10. Officials said Germany and Norway had offered to hold the talks, but there had been no decision on the venue of the event. The official, who did not have the power to discuss the issue publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Taliban had pledged to stop street attacks, suicide bombings and rocket fire. The official said the U.S. would monitor the ceasefire and determine if there were any violations.

Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy on Friday called the U.S. deal the first step in that process. A ceasefire was widely expected and President Donald Trump approved the principle of the deal, which U.S. officials say could lead to the start of large U.S. troop withdrawals from Afghanistan. Minutes before the agreement was signed, a joint statement by the U.S. and the Afghan government said U.S. and NATO troops would withdraw from Afghanistan within 14 months. People who know the outlines of the plan say it calls for the week-long ceasefire to be successfully concluded, followed within 10 days by the start of Afghan negotiations to define the road map for the country`s political future. Saturday`s agreement, signed in Doha in the presence of leaders from Pakistan, Qatar, Turkey, India, Indonesia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, will pave the way for the gradual withdrawal of the United States. The Taliban official said the deal would provide for the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners before negotiations begin.

The official said the agreement on a seven-day “reduction of violence,” followed by the opening of peace talks across Afghanistan within 10 days, was “very specific” and covers the entire country, including Afghan government forces. There are signs that a formal announcement could arrive as early as this weekend. “No deal is perfect and the DEAL between the United States and the Taliban is no exception,” said Robert Malley, president and CEO of the International Crisis Group. An estimated 10,000 captured Taliban are being held in Afghanistan. The radical Islamist group had seen a “reduction in violence” the week before the signing of the agreement with the United States on Saturday in Qatar. Mohammed Naeem, a Taliban representative in Doha, called the deal “a step forward.” The agreement also provides for an inter-Afghan dialogue with the Kabul government and the release of 5,000 Taliban from prison. Doha, Qatar (F) — After months of negotiations in Qatar`s capital, U.S. and Taliban officials have signed an agreement to end the longest U.S. war in Afghanistan since 2001. ==An official said Friday that the U.S. and Taliban have reached a ceasefire agreement that could go into effect “very soon” and lead to the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

“It`s now in the deal and it`s up to the U.S. to live up to the commitments it made in the deal,” Suhail Shaheen, spokesman for the Taliban office in Doha, tweeted.

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